Influencer marketing has emerged as a powerful method for building brand awareness, trust and overall reputation. And today, with consumers spending more time scrolling through visual social networks like Instagram to discover new trends, brands and products, influencers have the potential to affect more retail sales than ever before.
In fact, recent research from Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, indicated that 83% of users discover new products and services on the platform. Influencers play a critical role in this discovery journey, and brands have an opportunity to tap these individuals to build authentic customer relationships and boost commerce results.
During a recent Retail Reset webinar, Allison Roy, Senior Digital Marketing Consultant at Capgemini, offered strategic and tactical guidance to help brands develop their strategies. The session, titled: How To Build A Sustainable Influencer Marketing Program From The Ground Up, also debunked five common myths that permeate the retail marketing space. They include:
Myth 1: Influencer marketing is a fad
Influencer marketing broke into the cultural zeitgeist when Keeping Up With The Kardashians became a mainstream success just as social networks like Instagram began reaching millions of daily users. But influencer marketing has been around for generations — it just had a different name, according to Roy.
“When you look at the history of commerce, influencers have always been around, just in different capacities,” she said. “In the 1950s, we started to see brands leaning on other voices to be more persuasive among consumers, such as the Coca-Cola Santa Claus. They used these characters and packaging to give the brands more creative cachet.” Now more than ever, Roy noted that “people are looking for trustworthy voices that back the brand.”
In fact, consumers’ desire for more authentic brand experiences has forced influencer marketing to evolve and include different experts and different voices. Some brands even include their store associates as influencers in order to forge stronger relationships between local stores and their communities.
Myth 2: You need a hefty budget to be successful
Celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can make up to $650,000 per sponsored post, according to data from HireInfluence. They have the name recognition and a follower base to warrant the cost. However, that doesn’t mean brands have to spend their entire annual budget on a single influencer campaign. There is an expanded ecosystem of influencers that are part of a much larger “brand community.” In addition to brand employees, marketers can leverage customers, creatives and industry experts, who may be more eager and willing to participate for minimal — or no — payment.
“There are some strategies you can take to make sure you’re making maximum impact on the budget you’ve been allocated,” Roy said. “For the longest time it was all about big influencers, but as influencer marketing as an industry develops, we’re noticing more persuasive influence among smaller social media personalities who have that tight-knit following and who can really speak authentically to their love for a brand.”
Myth 3: Influencer marketing is most valuable for apparel and cosmetic brands
Apparel, footwear and cosmetics brands frequently leverage influencers to spread the word about new collections and boost overall brand clout. That is why fashion bloggers such as Amy Song, Chriselle Lim and Arielle Charnas have turned their side projects into full-blown empires. However, influencers’ impact has extended across product categories, and consumers are relying on them to validate purchase decisions in all facets of their lives. That is why Roy shared examples from brands such as YETI and Whole Foods — two brands that took very different approaches to influencer marketing but were equally successful with their results.
Myth 4: You can use technology to automate campaigns and all activities
Influencer marketing has unearthed an entire category of platforms and apps designed to help executives better find, manage and engage influencers, and to track campaign results. These solutions certainly help facilitate day-to-day activities, but Roy cautions that brands shouldn’t rely on technology alone to validate their decisions. Some influencers use bots and other programs to inflate their follower base and post engagement, which can impact overall campaign results.
“I generally advocate the old-fashioned, bespoke method where you’re looking up the proper tags and doing your own research,” Roy said. “We’re finding we can rely less and less on automated tools to judge things like engagement rate. You really do need that human eye. If you have the time and resources, then I would recommend taking that more human approach to managing influencer relationships.”
Myth 5: Influencer campaigns are most valuable for generating buzz
Marketers can scroll through Instagram and quickly see tens, if not hundreds, of sponsored posts, typically promoting promo codes or exclusive offers for products. Taking this one-size-fits-all approach may prevent brands from realizing the full potential of their influencer partnerships, according to Roy. In fact, brands can tap influencers to achieve a multitude of business objectives, including boosting follower growth, driving web traffic to specific products and even bolstering their content arsenals. For example, Roy shared how brands can use paid posts as branded content ads, and even shared how brands can get creative by amplifying social content on e-Commerce product pages and blogs.
Listen to the webinar replay to learn more about how to develop a scalable influencer marketing program that is authentic to your brand and can drive tangible results for your business.